Finding Faith Isn’t Easy — The Church EditionPosted: September 22, 2009
So I’ve written abou this before. But in that case, it wasn’t so much about religion as much as it was about cancer.
This time, it’s about religion.
It’s not just that we didn’t go to church Sunday (while it’s tough with kids, we are somewhat regular). It’s more that I didn’t miss going to church this Sunday. Or any other Sunday.
This is part of my self-diagnosed mid-life crisis. (Yup, I’m having one, by the way.)
I should miss it — shouldn’t I? Or, it’s not even so much that I miss it. It’s that when we do go, the only time I seem to walk out of mass with interest is when I know the Knights of Columbus are holding a pancake breakfast in the hall.
Something is missing.
I mean, I’ve told you this before. I was an altar boy. I’ve been a lector forever. A Eucharistic minster, too. Heck, I even ran the parish council for a few years. Throw in eight years of Catholic elementary school and I’m destined for saint hood. Or not.
I’ve told you what I like about the Catholic church — the tradition and the mystery. I love the concept of the mass and how it’s structured. However, recently, I’m just not getting enough out of it — if anything.
And that bothers me.
Of course, take a look at a couple of the church’s big issues — capital punishment and abortion. Yup, I’m all for the death penalty. And, ladies, it’s your body. As far as I’m concerned, you get to choose what to do with it.
It’s not like those are some minor issues that I’m disagreeing with. Throw in my support for gay marriage and, well, send me to hell right now.
Because of my beliefs, some would say I have no business being in the church.
Can’t lie and say I’ve never thought of that. But the question that always comes up in my head — if not the Catholic church, where?
The other question is — why am I thinking about this now?
Well, can’t lie. Death (and cancer) certainly have a lot to do with this.
I’ve had enough happen in my life alone to question my faith — let alone what others I know have had to deal with.
And, I should say, questioning faith doesn’t mean I don’ t have any. I do. Or at least I want to have it.
It’s a quest to find some sort of spiritual comfort. Where does it come from? How do I get it? And, then, if I do get it, what the hell do I do with it?
I believe in a higher power/authority. Ok, yeah, I believe in God.
Is God a he? A she? A what? Doesn’t matter. I believe that there is one — regardless of who or what it really is.
Where I have the problem is figuring out why God wants to mess with not just me, but with others.
OK, if there’s a lesson I’m supposed to learn because of Dad and Tim, could I just know it now? Hasn’t it been long enough? Yeah. It has.
The kids are baptized. Aidan goes to a Catholic school. Sure, my experience was a great one. But, honestly, one of the main reasons he goes is because they provide after-school care. Of course, part of my hope is that Aidan going to a parochial school will help his behavior and attention in church. We’ll see how that goes.
I say prayers with the kids every night. And, I also say my own prayers every day. Not always at the same time. Not always in the same place. But, bottom line is they get said.
Heck, I’m a godfather — three times! I do take that responsibility seriously. I mean, being selected by key friends and family — well, it’s simply an honor.
But, that doesn’t mean I’m without question — because I’m not.
And, yes, I’ve read The Shack. An amazing work. Read it if you haven’t. Did it change the way I think or look at things? Not really. But it has inspired conversation. And conversation is always good.
I have a lot of questions. A lot of issues.
To some extent, I don’t want to wait any more for the answers. I know I have to. I know I can’t get the answers to some of the questions now — and maybe not ever. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want them. Because I do.
I also, to some extent, believe in the power of prayer. Not so much that it can heal the sick, per se. But more so that it draws people closer — in a different way. And in that sense, it provides comfort.
When Dad and Tim died, I know people were praying for them — and for me. Did that do anything to help them? No. But it certainly did something to help me.
When Mom had her bypass in January, people were praying then, too. Did it help her physically? Maybe it helped her get through the surgery, but the complications persisted for quite some time, so hard to accept that.
But, again, what it did was bring comfort — to mom, my sister, my brother and me — at a very difficult time.
Again, it takes people with a shared experience/interest and brings them closer. I don’t care if it’s prayer or something else, any time that happens, it’s a good thing.
So where does this leave me?
Will I start getting more out of mass? Was I really ever getting anything out of mass? Honestly, I think the answer to both of those questions is I don’t know.
I love to argue — er, debate — religion. Always have. My Dad and I were famous for our ‘conversations.’
I would often take the opposite side of an issue just so I could disagree with him and argue points against him. It was that much fun. Kind of our thing.
I always promoted the notion of doing good things, of being a good neighbor, of going to church on a regular basis.
Dad was never for that. Nope. “Michael, always be careful with this one,” he’d say.
“Why’s that, Dad?” I’d respond.
“Because, Michael, no matter what you believe and what you think, one thing is very clear — religion is a very personal thing.”
I realize now, more than ever, how true that is.